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CCII

THE SOLITUDE OF
ALEXANDER SELKIRK

I am monarch of all I survey;
My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
( Solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.

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I am out of humanity's reach,
I must finish my journey alone,
Never hear the sweet music of speech;
I start at the sound of my own.
The beasts that roam over the plain
My form with indifference see;
They are so unacquainted with man,
Their tameness is shocking to me.
Society, Friendship, and Love
Divinely bestow'd upon man,
Oh, had I the wings of a dove
How, soon would I taste you again!
My sorrows I then might assuage
In the ways of religion and truth,
Might learn from the wisdom of age,
And be cheer'd by the sallies of youth.
Ye winds that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Some cordial endearing report
Of a land I shall visit no more:
My friends, do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me?
O tell me I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see.

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How fleet is a glance of the mind!
Compared with the speed of its flight,
The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift-wingéd arrows of light.
When I think of my own native land
In a moment I seem to be there;
But alas! recollection at hand
Soon hurries me back to despair.

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But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest,
The beast is laid down in his lair;
Even here is a season of rest,
And I to my cabin repair.
There's mercy in every place,
And mercy, encouraging thought!
Gives even affliction a grace
And reconciles man to his lot.

W. Cowper

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CCIII

TO MARY UNWIN

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Mary! I want a lyre with other strings,
Such aid from Heaven as some have feign'd they

drew,
An eloquence scarce given to mortals, new

And undebased by praise of meaner things,
5 That ere through age or woe I shed my wings

I may record thy worth with honour due,
In verse as musical as thou art true,
And that immortalizes whom it sings:-

But thou hast little need. There is a Book
10 By seraphs writ with beams of heavenly light,

On which the eyes of God not rarely look,
A chronicle of actions just and bright-
There all thy deeds, my faithful Mary, shine;
And since thou own'st that praise, I spare thee mine.

W. Cowper

CCIV

TO THE SAME

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The twentieth year is well-nigh past
Since first our sky was overcast;
Ah would that this might be the last !

My Mary!
Thy spirits have a fainter flow,
I see thee daily weaker grow-
'Twas my distress that brought thee low,

My Mary!
Thy needles, once a shining store,
For my sake restless heretofore,
Now rust disused, and shine no more;

My Mary!
For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil
The same kind office for me still,
Thy sight now seconds not thy will,

My Mary!
But well thou play’dst the housewife's part,
And all thy threads with magic art
Have wound themselves about this heart,

My Mary!
Thy indistinct expressions seem
Like language utter'd in a dream;
Yet me they charm, whate'er the theme,

My Mary!
Thy silver locks, once auburn bright,
Are still more lovely in my sight
Than golden beams of orient light,

My Mary!
For could I view nor them nor thee,
What sight worth seeing could I see?
The sun would rise in vain for me,

My Mary!

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Partakers of thy sad decline
Thy hands their little force resign;
Yet, gently prest, press gently mine,

My Mary!
Such feebleness of limbs thou prov'st
That now at every step thou mov'st
Upheld by two; yet still thou lov'st,

My Mary!
And still to love, though prest with ill,
In wintry age to feel no chill,
With me is to be lovely still,

My Mary!
But ah! by constant heed I know
How oft the sadness that I show
Transforms thy smiles to looks of woe,

My Mary!
And should my future lot be cast
With much resemblance of the past,
Thy worn-out heart will break at last-
My Mary!

W'. Cowper

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CCV

THE CAST AWAY

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Obscurest night involved the sky,

The Atlantic billows roar'd,
When such a destined wretch as I,

Wash'd headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.
No bra ver chief could Albion boast

Than he with whom he went,
Nor ever ship left Albion's coast

With warmer wishes sent.
He loved them both, but both in vain,
Nor him beheld, nor her again.

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Not long beneath the whelming brine,

Expert to swim, he lay;
Nor soon he felt his strength decline,

Or courage die away;
But waged with death a lasting strife,
Supported by despair of life.

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He shouted: nor his friends had fail'd

To check the vessel's course,
But so, the furious blast prevail'd,

That, pitiless perforce,
They left their outcast mate behind,
And scudded still before the wind.

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Some succour yet they could afford;

And such as storms allow,
The cask, the coop, the floated cord,

Delay'd not to bestow.
But he (they knew) nor ship nor shore,
Whate'er they gave, should visit more.

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Nor, cruel as it seem’d, could he

Their haste himself condemn,
Aware that flight, in such a sea,

Alone could rescue them;
Yet bitter felt it still to die
Deserted, and his friends so nigh.

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He long survives, who lives an hour

In ocean, self-upheld;
And so long he, with unspent power,

His destiny repell’d;
And ever, as the minutes flew,
Entreated help, or cried 'Adieu!'
At length, his transient respite past,

His comrades, who before
Had heard his voice in every blast,

Could catch the sound no more;
For then, by toil subdued, he drank
The stilling wave, and then he sank.

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